For years, the state's court system has leased most of the spaces in a city-owned parking garage downtown to provide free parking for jurors summoned to Fresno County Superior Court.
But the agreement to use Fresno's Garage No. 4 on Tulare Street near Fulton Street came to an abrupt halt Monday, when the city notified the state it would finally enforce a rate increase approved by the Fresno City Council more than a year ago.
A spokeswoman with the Judicial Council of California confirmed the Fresno County court suspended paid juror parking Monday. The net effect is that until – or unless – the city and state reach a new deal, people who come downtown for jury duty will have to pay for their own parking in garages or at curbside parking meters.
The court system provided paid parking to an average of about 144 jurors a day in January 2017, according to an analysis provided by the Judicial Council.
In Garage No. 4, anything after the first hour is $1 per hour until 6 p.m., or a maximum of $9 per day. Metered parking downtown ranges between $1 and $1.50 per hour, depending on the location.
Garage No. 4, a three-story structure, has a total of 313 parking spaces. Since 2010, the Judicial Council of California has leased 240 of those spaces for jurors serving at two downtown courthouses. Until Monday, the state was paying the city $35 per parking space per month. But that rate is well below the $60-per-space monthly price approved by the city council in January 2017 as part of a wholesale overhaul of parking rates in downtown Fresno.
But while other customers agreed to the $60 rate, the state effectively declined to go along and continued paying $35 per space, said Mark Standriff, a city spokesman. On Monday, Fresno told the Judicial Council it would no longer honor the lower rate.
"We notified the state in April of last year about the rate increase, and have been working with them since that time to try to come to some kind of resolution," Standriff said Tuesday. "We've got a meeting scheduled later this week, and we are hopeful they will accept a new rate and standardized contract."
The $60 bulk contract rate applies to customers that lease at least 50 parking spaces. The flat rate replaced a variety of contracts and rates with different agencies, organizations and companies and set the fee at the same rate the Club One casino pays for parking spaces in an underground parking garage downtown.
The standard monthly rate for parking permits in city-owned parking garages is $90 per space, or $75 per space in uncovered surface parking lots.
A parking-rate study conducted by for the city in late 2016 indicated that to cover the cost of required maintenance at garages, Fresno needs to recover an average of $75 per parking space per month. "Even $60 is still lower than the amount it actually costs to maintain the garages," Standriff said.
"We apologize for any inconvenience for jurors," Standriff added. "But we still have to be responsible to our taxpayers."